Essay by Eric Worrall
Soros led the transition from fake climate crisis to fake AI crisis.
AI is at the root of the global “polycrisis”
Climate change and the war against Ukraine also threaten democracy, according to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
We live in troubled times. It’s happening too much too fast. People are confused. Columbia University economic historian Adam Tooze actually popularized a word for it. He calls it a “polycrisis”.
The polycrisis has many causes. In my opinion The main cause of the polycrisis afflicting the world today is artificial intelligence. Second is climate change, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine qualifies third. The list is much longer, but I’ll focus on these three. That should help reduce the confusion.
Shortly thereafter, Geoffrey Hinton, widely regarded as the godfather of AI, resigned from Google to speak openly about the risks of the new technology. He changed his previous position and had a very negative attitude towards the AI. He said it could destroy our civilization.
What Hinton said made a big impression on me. As a matter of fact, AI reminded me of Goethe’s poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The apprentice studies magic, but does not fully understand what the master is teaching him. When the master orders him to sweep the floor, he uses the magic words on a broom. The broom obeys him, but the apprentice cannot stop the broom from getting buckets of water to sweep the floor, and the house is flooded.
Read more (paid): https://www.afr.com/technology/ai-is-at-the-root-of-the-world-s-polycrisis-20230612-p5dfui
I predicted this turnaround back in 2017. The political use of the fake climate crisis has been all but exhausted, the climate crisis rhetoric these days mostly only works with leftists who already planned to vote socialist. But AI scary stories have bipartisan appeal. And we are already well prepared for the fake AI crisis with science fiction/horror stories like The Terminator.
I’m a software engineer with over 30 years of experience who has personally written AIs. I’m not a “father of AI,” but I know a thing or two. I disagree with the AI apocalypse narrative.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a strong metaphor, but in my opinion it’s the wrong metaphor for the rise of AI. A better metaphor is the arms race between computer virus creators and antivirus companies.
Every once in a while a virus writer manages to take a hit, but our computers are mostly secure. Install the antivirus, keep the subscription and software patches up to date, and you’re good to go about your daily business.
No matter what skills the AI bestows on the wrongdoers, or whatever aberrant skills the AI develops itself, it will be treated like yet another computer virus to be countered by AIs prepared to monitor and respond to threats.
Is it possible that someone could leap forward and develop unique abilities, or that an AI could develop a new form of attack? Of course it is – look at how Microsoft’s ChatGPT integration caught Google off guard, an example Soros mentioned elsewhere in his article.
But who thinks this setback will mean the ruin of Google and all other AI companies? By the end of this year, the world will be awash with ChatGPT lookalikes developed by tech companies spending tens of billions of whatever it takes to stay in the running.
AI will bring tremendous changes to society, some wonderful, others many of us will find deeply disturbing. On the bright side, there will be great advances in medical science. Advances such as medical immortality and cures for currently stubborn diseases are all but within reach.
But AI will also bring challenging disruptions. Among other things, I foresee a future AI version of today’s “trans” conflict between schoolchildren, with progressive politicians demanding that children should be allowed to enlarge their brains and bodies with AI implants without parental consent in order to avoiding the trauma of feeling inferior to their extended classmates.
But we will get through all of that and more. Many of us living today may experience an age of wonder—an age of fulfillment and joy that today’s world can scarcely imagine.
In the meantime, we must firmly resist this shift toward AI scares, just as we have resisted climate scares and Covid lockdown scares. Because at the grassroots of the AI scare campaign will be the very same people who are currently at the grassroots of the climate crisis movement: pushy fools who think they know better than we do how to live our lives.